Family — Legacy — Destiny
Schwartz and Fedak promised that the last 10 minutes of Push Mix would be the best 10 minutes of Chuck, ever … and the most epic moment possible. From where I sit, they made good on the promise. Push Mix gave me everything I love about Chuck and did it with much heart and humor.
We were treated to Ellie Bartowski! Woodcomb; Awesome losing and finding his awesomeness; Chuck at his hero best; Sarah Walker (Bartowski) in action; MamaB’s rescue; the long overdue defeat of Alexei Volkoff; the best-ever family moments on Chuck; and the proposal.
Besides delivering a balance of action, comedy, drama, and romance, Push Mix did justice to the mythology, the themes, and the story lines of the series, the season, and the Balcony arc (11-13). If not my favorite episode, it definitely leads the pack. Picking my favorite Chuck episode comes down to a photo finish, and Push Mix is nose to nose with the very best.
We begin in the hospital with a family moment. John Casey, the cold school killer, fell into a big pot of jam the day he was assigned to Chuck Bartowski. That made him family, whether he wanted it or not and placed him under the protection of Ellie Bartowski, who is almost as good at giving orders as the Colonel. She’s also good at reminding Chuck what’s important. Sometimes intentionally, “You are a Bartowski, Chuck. Start acting like one,” … still one of the greatest speeches ever given on Chuck. Sometimes casually:
Chuck and I do anything for family.
Finally, Casey speaks. Who knew the word “pants” could be so exciting? Apparently it is, even if you don’t know what it means. Hurray. Chuck finds the evil eye and flashes on Hydra. Score one for the good guys.
Leaving one family/spy scene, we check in on another family/spy relationship, the mother-spy/daughter-spy partnership … and a very cool spidy-bot. It’s no secret how much I love the developing bond between Mary and Sarah. I like the ease with which they are working together. I liked Sarah telling Mary she should answer Alexei’s call … and Mary’s total exasperation at having to do so. The call itself was a hoot, Mary placating Alexei like the rather large, albeit extraordinarily evil, child that he is, “Yes, I know. I can see you. … How was your day?” Poor Alexei, had to let someone go … off a 30 story building. Most bosses just fire their troublesome employees … lame, right?
One more piece of information (the Contessa, whoever she is), one step closer to Hydra, and one step closer to outa here.
Well, it’s good-news/bad-news for Chuck. General’s orders? He has to wait while the CIA follows up on leads. This sounds awfully familiar. Oh yeah, except last time it was a worried-to-death, impatient Sarah who was told to wait. Did she wait? Of course not. And neither will Chuck.
No, Morgan. I can’t do this anymore. … Ellie’s right. Bartowski’s take care of their family, and right now it’s time I put mine back together again.
This was my father’s mission, and I have to finish it. And we’re going to take down Volkoff.
The mission, what he’s got to lose, who he’s fighting for … it all crystallizes in a heart-beat, and Chuck takes ownership of the Orion legacy. His father’s legacy is now his.
Morgan in total shock that he is included in this climactic mission, asks which guns to grab.
No guns. We need a plan.
That’s the Chuck Bartowski we know. The one we’ve been missing lately.
The Tron Poster goes mural. Everybody smiling now? Yeah, me too. Wonder if Sarah will appreciate the new decor. Meh, she won’t care. She’ll have a new ring to admire, once they come up for air. Ah, where were we? Oh, yeah, the plan …
The legacy lives, and so does the man. Volkoff’s computer tells him so. What is it with the Bartowski men? They just won’t die. Poor Volkoff. What a great scene. Paranoid Volkoff was hilarious. Is there no bottom to Timothy Dalton’s depths. Apparently not. Ooo, goosebumps and chills when Orion’s name filled the screen. I knew it had to be Chuck, but it still had my heart pounding. Way to go, Agent Bartowski. His plan worked like itching powder. Volkoff sends his goon Armand to find Orion (good luck with that), while he hightails it with Frost and Walker to hide behind the skirts of a woman … the Contessa.
Meanwhile, back at the Buymore, Captain Awesome enlists Chuck’s musical help to ease the deep terrors eating away at him from the inside. Whoa. The Captain Awesome that wasn’t. Chuck’s serenity is once again disturbed by his sister’s personal life. TMI on the vitamin pills, Bro. Loved Chuck’s reaction. Brain bleach anyone?
Next up, bathroom interrogation 101. Get the right guy. Ronnie Eimacher, aptly named, provides another piece of the puzzle; and the good guys are off to visit the steel maiden and get Hydra, or something like that.
The Contessa. Why not the Tsarina, I don’t know, except that Contessa has a more alluring ring to it. The floating fortress of fun: anti aircraft missiles, sonar stealth, and an old fashioned ice cream parlor. What’s not to love. Too bad Sarah didn’t think to book ahead for the honeymoon. Perhaps as part of his rehab, Alexei can get a job with Holland America. Whatever has happened on her decks before, she is now the stage for some of my favorite scenes.
Chuck makes a great Seal. Morgan, trapped in his wet-suit, makes a convincing frogman. Nuff said.
The Mary/Sarah Mother/Daughter(in-law) moment packs a lot into 25 seconds.
MamaB: We’re as close as we’re ever going to get. Tonight, whether or not we find the Hydra, you’re going home. Twenty long years boil down to this one opportunity. If not tonight, never. Sobering thought.
Sarah: What do you mean? No, I can’t. I promised Chuck that I wouldn’t come home without you. Sarah is loyal to Chuck and her promise to him. She has to do this for him.
MamaB: Yes, I made a lot of promises, too. I don’t want you to become me. And I will not allow my son to become his father. So, tonight it ends.
These two women are like facing mirrors, whose reflections in each other are unending. Mary sees so much of herself in Sarah. How could she not?
Sarah sees a lot of herself (her old self) in Mary. Up until this point, Sarah has understood the side of Mary that Chuck had no way to understand. Sarah understands Mary the spy who got in too deep and has been trapped in a living hell for 20 years. Now, for the first time, Sarah meets the woman Chuck knew. Sarah sees Mary as a woman who loved her husband and family, a woman who lives with regrets. She sees a woman who cares about her, like a mother (something she hasn’t had in a long time), a woman who loves her son. The person Mary used to be is the person Sarah has become with Chuck. That Mary is still in there, and tonight she comes to life again.
Huge epiphany for Sarah. She is trying so hard to help Chuck in the matters dearest to his heart. She wants to ease his worries over his family. She wants to give him back his mom. She will do anything for this man that she loves with a love she’s never known before. Anything. She just doesn’t always see the big picture. Tonight she gets it. What would be worse for Chuck than not getting his mom back? … Not getting Sarah back and turning into his father. Powerful scene.
A shipboard reunion under a night sky might be really romantic, if the cruise director weren’t a psycho arms dealer and the crew armed with machine guns. Way to kill the mood. Chuck’s face was perfect and the reunion sweet, if brief. Both women try to send Chuck back to safety, but he will have none of it. Hurray, for Charles Carmichael Orion Bartowski. It’s going to be OK. Chuck has a plan.
Now it’s Mary’s turn to meet the son that Sarah knows, including the one with an aversion to bullets. Loved the mother/son confrontation over the use of firearms. Guess which one was the parent? The look on Mary’s face is pure gold. I see fun ahead for the Bartowski family.
The Morgan laser scene was funny, especially the facial expressions from Sarah and Mary (who actually pats Morgan … well, where only a best friend’s mother can, as she passes his half naked body on her way into the server room). Sarah giving her coat to Morgan was sweet and in keeping with their growing best-friend-in-law relationship.
Chuck uploads Orion’s virus into Hydra, just before Volkoff and his men show up for the party. More machine guns! Have they no manners? Mary shines as she holds a gun to Volkoff’s head so her family can escape. That must have felt good. Wonder how long she has wanted to do that? What follows is a revelation that clears up some things we’ve wondered about ever since Mary stepped back into Chuck’s life. And, wow, is it good. Frankly it’s better than a detailed description of why the mission took 20 years.
Dashed hopes, fear of the awakened monster, and the message from her dead husband push Mary Bartowski to the breaking point. She will probably die soon, so she may as well get something off her chest … the truth.
You want the truth, Alexei? The truth is my husband, alive or dead, will always be 10 times the man you are. And every moment that I was with you, I was thinking of him.
Volkoff reaches a new level of boiling rage and bone chilling creepiness as he caresses her and kisses her, promising to return with her husband’s body. Anyone still think Mary stayed all those years because she relaxed into the mission or enjoyed the perks and the power, and didn’t particularly care if she left? Didn’t think so.
Chuck steps into Orion’s shoes and legacy becomes destiny.
“Orion” sitting in the chair and Volkoff’s smug greeting. Tense. Chuck’s return greeting, the same one Volkoff gave him in Orion’s other base … awesome.
For me this is Chuck’s finest hero moment. The plan was brilliant, tailor-made for the enemy, and worthy of the legacy it honored. The execution was perfectly played, all without flashing. Fantastic.
The speech along with the inter-cut scenes was perfect. As the plan unfolds, we see just how brilliant it was. I love that Chuck used the virus his dad created and that he gave Stephen J. Bartowski the credit for Volkoff’s ultimate defeat. Volkoff’s utter shock was cheer worthy, as he realized he had been outwitted. The empty gun … check. Smug to the end, Volkoff trumpets his certain victory. Knock, knock. Who’s there? General Beckman and her army at your service … check mate. The general’s congratulations were nice, but news of Sarah and MamaB’s safety was all Chuck wanted to hear. Sweet relief.
My favorite part of the sequence, and possibly a series favorite, is the line, “Fight for your family,” followed by Sarah’s rescue of Mary. Sarah stayed on the ship to fight for her family. “Mary, quick,” the bond has deepened. Though brief, it was a great fight scene, uber moves with bullets flying. Plus I always love it when Sarah starts throwing knives. Wonderful moment as Sarah and Mary leave hell behind. I still haven’t figured out how they got off the ship. … I just know it wasn’t public transportation.
We end up back at the hospital. It’s still about family, and the family moments have never been better.
Who doesn’t want to cheer when Chuck and his mom and Sarah exit the elevator? (Who doesn’t want to cheer that Sarah lost the black wig!) Chuck united his family, but he couldn’t have done it without Sarah, or even Morgan for that matter. Can it get any better than this? … Yes.
Sarah’s first glimpse of Casey, “John. I’m sorry. I, I didn’t mean t …” His reply lets her know everything is fine between them.
The family gathering in the hallway is hallmark Chuck. I love the “yes” chorus, when the nurse asks if they are all family. Everyone looked to Chuck to make the decision. He has more than earned his place as head of this family. His choice was appropriate. He brought Ellie her father for her wedding and her mother for the birth of her first child. Can it get any better than this? … Yes.
Mary’s entrance and Ellie’s smile, “You came,” … another among so many priceless moments from Push Mix. Mary’s reply, “We all did,” speaks of her restoration. She belongs to a family again, a family who have forgiven her, understood her, loved her, and fought for her, to bring her back. Now she is present to celebrate new life, the birth of her daughter’s daughter. Can it get any better than this? … Yes.
Casey, Morgan, and Alex ride off into the sunset together. OK, they role into the fluorescent glow of a hospital corridor. The sunset sounded better. Whatever, it was still sweet.
The glimpses of Chuck and Sarah in the hallway betray an intimacy in companionable silence and in the pleasure of nearness and holding hands, things they’ve missed for too long. There will be time later for conversation and catching up, but for now it’s enough just to be together. Well, almost.
Chuck may not need the perfect moment or the perfect spot, but I think he found it. No hand wringing, no butterflies, no surveillance … just them.
Can it get any better than this?
The Push Mix concludes an arc that I like at least as well, maybe better than any on Chuck. Sarah’s sacrificial mission became the first domino in taking down Volkoff and freeing Mary. Did Sarah do it alone. No. But without the courage of her love, it wouldn’t have happened at all.
I hinted at a binary solution to the 20 year Volkoff problem. Turns out the solution was Mary plus TeamB. We’re better as a team, a favorite Chuck theme, was never more true. It took all of TeamB, including Mary, to do what the government couldn’t do in 20 years. Mary, cut off from everyone, couldn’t find Hydra and bring down Volkoff. GB confirms that the CIA had been looking for Hydra for 20 years, without success. I can cut Mary a little slack and accept the answers we got, gaps and all, especially in light of what we learned about Mary, herself.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think Chuck is getting a better handle on his destiny. Guess what? It all comes back to family.
I was never going to kill you Alexei. After all I am my father’s son, aren’t I?
Chuck already embraced his destiny, as hero and spy. He is good at both. But it was more like he was trying to fulfill his destiny as someone else. Finally, in this episode, Chuck takes hold of his legacy and steps into his destiny. For the first time, it seems, he doesn’t want to step into a role or an archetype. He steps into his own skin, without apology, to be the man he was meant to be, with his unique gifts and talents. To pursue his destiny, he can’t be someone else. He has to be Chuck Bartowski. Charles Carmichael Orion Bartowski. I expect to see more of this Chuck from here on out.
Small gripes. The laser gauntlet was longer than necessary. I would rather have seen Sarah’s reunion with Casey, something much more significant to the story. I would have liked to see the proposal a little better. The choice to do it where, when, and how they did was great, but it felt a wee bit far away and faded a tad too quickly. Don’t get me wrong; I loved it. But for one of the most epic moments of the series, I would have liked to see it a little closer (just a meter or two) and a little longer.
Once again the whole cast was superb. Zach was never better. Linda Hamilton absolutely nailed everything, a lot of range for her in Push Mix. Timothy Dalton outdid himself; he is just amazing. Yvonne was great as always. Casey, Morgan, Alex, Devon, and Ellie all did such a great job! Congratulations on a job well done. The Buymore was back to its funnier self, and Jeff and Lester were back to a humorous level of creepy.